Top Chef Canada’s Mark McEwan has a spring-inspired recipe

By / Food / April 4th, 2020 / 16
Top Chef Canada Season Eight Judges

Top Chef Canada, the country’s favourite culinary competition, returns for its eighth season on April 13. Twelve talented culinary competitors compete in cutthroat challenges and battle for the title of Canada’s Top Chef. The competitors must impress the esteemed judges: Head judge chef Mark McEwan; Host chef Eden Grinshpan; and Resident judges Janet Zuccarini, Mijune Pak and Chris Nuttall-Smith.

To bring a little flavour into our spring, each of the judges have shared with Quench their favourite springtime dish and drink pairing. Our first dish comes from Chef Mark McEwan.

Chef McEwan started his career as the youngest ever executive chef at Toronto’s Sutton Place Hotel… and his is resume has only become more impressive. Chef McEwan is constantly pushing the culinary boundaries, with groundbreaking North 44, award-winning Bymark, and chic ONE Restaurant under his name. His culinary empire continues to expand; there are now three locations for McEwan Fine Foods, a marketplace for fresh, quality ingredients; and three locations for Fabbrica, which serves authentic rustic Italian cuisine. Check out his latest venture, McEwan Catering. Home cooks can bring McEwan into their kitchens with one of his best-selling cookbooks. Read his full bio on Food Network.

Try out McEwan’s spring-inspired dish this weekend and gear up for the season premier of Top Chef Canada.

Top Chef Canada head judge Mark McEwan
Photo credit: Food Network Canada
Octopus and chickpea
Photo credit: Food Network Canada

Charred Octopus and Chickpea Salad

Pair this recipe with a glass of Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, which you can get at the LCBO. It has notes of gooseberry, herbs and tropical fruit.

For Charred Octopus

3/4 cup good-quality olive oil
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
3 cloves garlic
1 small octopus (approx. 3 lbs)

For Chickpea Salad

1 1/2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and well drained
1/4 cup beef pepperoni, julienned
2 tbsp pepper caponata (store bought)
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp salt packed capers, rinsed
1 tbsp oregano, chopped
1 tbsp fine olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp oil-preserved chilies, minced
1 1/2 cups peppery young arugula
1 green onion, thinly sliced
Kosher Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan over low heat, combine the olive oil, parsley and garlic. Add the octopus, and cover with a lid. Simmer for 1.5 hours or until the octopus is tender and a knife easily goes through the meat where the arms join the head. Allow the octopus to cool in the oil, then cut off the tentacles and discard the head. Set aside 4 tentacles, saving the rest for another purpose. Refrigerate until needed.

Preheat grill on high

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, pepperoni, caponata, capers, parsley, oregano, fine olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper – toss well. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the remaining .25 cup of olive oil with red wine vinegar and chillies. Season with salt and pepper, taste, and correct seasoning if needed.

Oil the grill and lightly char 4 octopus tentacles on both sides. Cut the tentacles on the diagonal into slices about 1 inch thick. Toss the octopus in the vinaigrette. Add the arugula to the chickpea salad and toss again. Transfer salad to a platter and arrange the octopus on top and drizzle any additional vinaigrette over top. Garnish with a scattering of the green onions and serve.


Top Chef Canada season eight begins April 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada. This season’s winner will be crowned Top Chef and receive a grand prize of $100,000 provided by Interac Corp., a 2020 Lexus RX Self-Charging Hybrid Electric SUV, and an eight-night guided tour of Italy for two courtesy of Air Transat.

Visit foodnetwork.ca for an inside scoop on the upcoming season including full cast bios, competitor predictions, videos, image galleries and more. Check back week-to-week for recaps of each episode’s best moments, a closer look at the winning dish of the week, tips from the guest judges and more.

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